Gender, Hierarchy, and Leadership: An Introduction
Although women's status has improved remarkably in the 20th century in many societies, women continue to lack access to power and leadership compared with men. This issue reviews research and theory concerning women's leadership. The articles included in the issue provide evidence of bias in the evaluation of women, discuss effects of gender stereotypes on women's influence and leadership behav- iors, and evaluate strategies for change. This introductory article provides a brief summary of changes in women's status and power in employment and education and the absence of change at the upper echelons of power in organizations. Also included is an outline of the contributions of the other articles in the issue. It is an exciting period for scholars who study how gender affects leadership: The presence of greater numbers of women in positions of power has produced new opportunities to observe female leaders along with male leaders. There has been an increase in the numbers of women in positions of public leadership, includ- ing highly visible positions. Of course, focusing on women who occupy such lead- ership positions should not cause us to forget that women have always exercised leadership, particularly in families and throughout communities. However, until recently, women were extremely rare in major positions of public leadership. Now women are in a small minority in such roles, but present. Political leadership illus - trates this trend: In history only 42 women have ever served as presidents or prime ministers, and 25 of those have come to office in the 1990s (Adler, 1999). Almost all of the women who have attained top positions in corporations around the world have done so in the 1990s.